Big Ten Women's Soccer Tournament Preview
Nov. 2, 2006
The 2006 Big Ten Women's Soccer Tournament begins Thursday, Nov. 2 on Penn State University's campus in State College, Pa. The top eight teams, based on regular season standings, will take Jeffrey Field to battle for the Big Ten Tournament Championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
A familiar top seed - Penn State - will take on eighth-seeded Northwestern on its home turf, with the winners of the Thursday's quarterfinal contests advancing to Friday's two semifinals. Sunday's championship game will start at 1:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on a tape-delay basis on CSTV.
Here's a quick team-by-team look at the field:
1. Penn State (8-1-1 Big Ten, 12-3-3)
The Nittany Lions' victory over Northwestern that clinched the title also marked the program¹s 100th Big Ten regular season win. The championship is the 48th Big Ten title or tournament championship for Penn State since joining the Big Ten. The Class of 2006 - Sarah Dwyer, Jean Rettig, Ali Krieger, Heather Tomko and Holly Lincoln - captured four consecutive Big Ten championhips and didn't lose a conference game at Jeffrey Field.
The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in goals with 34, four ahead of the third place Wildcats. Junior Aubrey Aden-Buie has led the Penn State offensive attack that leads the conference in scoring with 5.22 points per game and an average of 1.89 goals per contest. Aden-Buie has notched nine goals and 20 points for the Nittany Lions.
Spearheading Penn State's defensive effort in conference play, Kreiger ranks sixth in the Big Ten in assists with five. The senior midfielder led a Nittany Lion team that allowed a league-low 0.70 goals per game. Freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher ranks as one of the top in the Big Ten, recording 66 saves and seven shutouts between the posts.
2. Illinois (8-2-0, 12-6-0)
Emily Zurrer led an Illini defense that has recorded nine shutouts with just a 1.09 goals allowed average. She became the first non-goalkeeper to win multiple Defensive Player of the Week awards in one season after earning the weekly laurels on Sept. 11 and Oct. 23.
Illinois is making its ninth-straight appearance in the conference tournament, only missing the event in 1997, the program's first year. The nine-year streak is the third-longest active string in the conference, behind 12-year runs by Penn State and Michigan, meaning both schools have qualified for every Big Ten Tournament.
Illinois has never lost an opening-round match in which it was the better seed, going 5-0. However, Wisconsin won the teams' only conference tournament meeting in 2002, when the fifth-seeded Badgers downed the No. 8 Illini, 1-0. In its eight Big Ten Tournament appearances, Illinois has advanced to at least the second round seven times, posting a 7-1 first-round record. Illinois' only opening-round loss was to top seed and eventual champion Penn State, a 1-0 decision, in 1998. Since then, the Illini have rattled off seven straight first-round wins.
3. Purdue (6-3-1, 13-4-3)
Purdue is No. 1 in the Big Ten Conference with 346 shots taken and 12 shutouts, and the Boilermakers are second in the conference with 14 goals allowed, one more than Big Ten leader Indiana. Senior goalkeeper Lauren Mason has dominated the conference field this year, recording a league-high 10 shutouts. A three-time Defensive Player of the Week selection this season, Mason also ranks third with 83 saves.
With its 2-1 win over Indiana to close the regular season, Purdue earned its 13th regular-season victory, breaking the previous program record of 12 set in 2002.
4. Indiana (5-4-1, 9-6-4)
Christie Kotynski has had a stellar season for the Hoosiers in the air in 2006, netting four goals including three on headers. She put home her fourth goal of the season in the 2-1 loss to Purdue on Oct. 27, booting home a rebound in the 72nd minute. Kotynski has also shown a flair for the clutch, as two of her four tallies have gone for game-tying goals and her goal against Michigan on Sunday, Oct. 1, was the game-winner.
Junior keeper Stacey Van Boxmeer picked up her seventh shutout of the season against Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 13, which was her third shutout in a row. Van Boxmeer's seven shutouts this season tie her for second on Indiana's single-season list with Monica Cox, who had seven in 1993. The junior has nine career shutouts, which places her fourth on the all-time Hoosier list. Her season goals against average is now 0.65, which puts her on pace to post the best GAA in school history. Chrissy Heubi's 0.70 average in 2001 is the lowest in program history.
5. Michigan (4-3-3, 8-6-5)
The Wolverines hold an all-time record of 17-10 at the Big Ten Tournament, having won the conference crown over Northwestern in 1997 and Penn State in 1999. Michigan advanced to the Big Ten Tournament final last season, but ran into a senior-laden Wisconsin squad on a chilly and windy afternoon.
Melissa Dobbyn leads the Wolverines' offense, holding the top spot in the Big Ten in shots with 84. She also ranks in the top 5 with six assists. The junior is within two points of sixth on the program's all-time points list entering the Big Ten Tournament. Her four goals and six helpers so far this season push her career totals to 25 goals and 17 assists. Dobbyn's 67 career points trail Ruth Poulin (1994-97), who collected 69 points in her career.
Dobbyn and Katie Miler have each netted three game-winning goals this season. All three of Miler's scores on the season have come in the clutch, and all but one of Dobbyn's four scores has clinched a Michigan win. Senior Judy Coffman finished the regular season with the team lead in goals (5) and runner-up in points (13). Coffman is currently one goal from equaling her single-season career best from 2005.
Senior goalkeeper Megan Tuura owns a league-best goals against average of 0.54. She also holds an 8-3-4 record this season, allowing nine goals in 17 games and ranking third in the Big Ten in save percentage (.855). In her freshman campaign, Tuura reset the Michigan program record for lowest goals-against average in a season, posting a 0.74 mark. She also ranks second on Michigan's career list in GAA (1.15) and career saves (303) while ranking third in wins (34). One more shutout would match her single-season career high of seven, which she set in 2004.
6. Ohio State (5-5-0, 10-7-1)
Commanding the Buckeye offense are Lara Dickenmann and Lisa Collison. Tops in the Big Ten in assists, Dickenmann has picked up nine this season while Collison leads the league in goals with 11.
Collison posted her third multiple-goal game in the team's regular-season finale against Minnesota on Oct. 27 when she scored two goals in the Buckeyes' 4-1 victory. Dickenmann has scored at least a point in 12 of the Buckeyes' 18 games, including posting at least a point in six of the last seven matches.
The OSU defense has collected six shutouts this season with goalkeeper Lauren Robertson notching a goals-against average of 0.89 that ranks fourth in the Big Ten.
7. Wisconsin (4-5-1, 7-8-3)
This year, Wisconsin has taken the first step, beating Northwestern 5-0 last Friday to close out the regular season. The Badger victory gave Wisconsin a tie for seventh place in the league with the Wildcats with a win over Northwestern in head-to-head competition securing the Badgers' No. 7 seed in the tournament.
Redshirt sophomore Taylor Walsh leads the Wisconsin in scoring attack. The Madison native has six goals and five assists for a team-high 17 points. Junior Ann Eshun leads the squad in assists with a career-best seven helpers. Senior Kara Kabellis tops the shots category for Wisconsin, taking 48 on the year, including 20 of which that were on goal.
Both Lynn Murray and Stefani Szczechowski have seen action between the posts this year for the Badgers. Murray has started 11 games and as a 1.35 goals-against average and 42 saves. Szczechowski, who has played in nine games, has a .133 GAA and 24 saves.
8. Northwestern (4-5-1, 8-9-1)
The Wildcats are led by junior forward Kelsey Hans whose seven goals rank fifth in the conference. Boosting Hans' offensive production, Jenny Dunn has dished six assists for the Northwestern squad that ranks third in the league in goals (30).